Real questions for a search engine

This stopped me in my tracks: The No. 1 question kids ask at AskKids.com is “What is love?” Ask reports. I was glad to find, upon doing that search myself in the children’s edition of this natural-language search engine, this first result: “The definition of love is a deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness…” from the American Heritage Dictionary. (The No. 2 question kids ask? “Where can I find ideas for a science project?”) The No. 1 parenting question at Ask.com could almost be considered a flipside of kids’ top one: “How can I help my child deal with a bully?” The rest of the parental Top 5 are “How can I help my child like school?”, “How do I keep my child safe on the Internet?”, “How should my child deal with peer pressure?”, and “What immunizations will my child need for school?”, respectively. If, instead of just clicking on “Search” on the home page, you click on “Lots of Answers” above it, you apparently get a slightly different set of results – based more on authority than popularity (Ask’s people say its algorithms look for sources such as “education sites, accredited institutions, newspapers, etc.” and “relevancy to the question”).


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